A guide to mixing music - Part 144Getting started
In a couple of weeks, this mixing guide will come to an end. I'm not kidding! Even the neverending story must come to a conclusion. However, I do love good thrillers, so I left one last twist for the very end...
If you just stumbled upon this article, be warned that it's of absolutely no interest outside the context of this mixing guide. Even worse, the next couple of lines might prove very dangerous if you are an absolute beginner in the world of mixing! So if that description fits you, I invite you to go back in time to where it all started, three years ago…
Let's twist again
Do you still remember the tenth installment where we discussed your method to approach a mix? Well, that article constitutes the backbone of this guide. Back then I wrote: "I don't intend it to be 'The Method,' since there are lots of other ones that are just as valid. However, I think this way of doing things will give you a solid foundation for you to develop your own method." And, in fact, I can guarantee you that no mixing project ever follows the steps I've described week after week here on your favorite website.
To put an example, personally, when I'm done with the rough mix I usually start compressing the buses. But I might just as well start working on the sound field with aux buses for reverbs and delays. Or sometimes I will just start automating things right in the middle of an EQing session, etc. In short, it all depends on my mood and what the song I'm working on suggests. And I think it would be safe for me to say that this way of approaching things, this constancy in inconstancy, is not exclusive to my way of working. On the contrary, I think this is a quality that every audio engineering ought to cultivate.
But then why the hell did I spend all this time rambling about a method that nobody ever uses? Well, because I needed an approach that allowed me to present the topic in a coherent way. This cold and linear theoretical approach has allowed me to describe all the basic rules and techniques that every audio engineer ought to know like the back of his/her hands.
Besides, as rigid as it may seem, I think this method can be considered a canvas where each of you can draw your own guidelines in terms of mixing. Happily, no artistic discipline has absolute rules. Everybody should follow his/her own inspiration, bending or even breaking this or that rule to be able to squeeze the best out of a work's singularity. That said, when you are lacking inspiration – which is something that sooner or later always happens during a creative process – it's better to have some formulas you can resort to in order to overcome an obstacle. My only hope is that you find some of these "lifesaving rules" I shared with you useful. They always help me find my way when I'm feeling lost in the maze of a mix.
See you next time for the next-to-last installment of your favorite series!